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Cultural Treasures

Chinese and Malay tin prospectors founded the city of Kuala Lumpur, but other countries have heavily influenced its history over the centuries. “KL” is a true cultural melting pot, where Hindu, Taoist and Muslim religious buildings are all venerated institutions, and modern skyscrapers mirror the country’s high-tech ambitions while the parks in their shadows offer protected habitat for local and imported wildlife. Celebrate the diversity with a tour through some of the city’s most renowned — and varied — sights.




  • Social Climbing.

    The Batu Caves north of Kuala Lumpur attract thousands of visitors, who ascend the 272 stairs to explore the limestone caverns and Hindu temple and shrine. An early
    start helps you beat the crowds (both of humans and of local monkeys that hope to snatch snacks or other treasures from unsuspecting tourists).

  • Ramp It Up.

    A walk up the Guggenheim-style pedestrian spiral at the three-story National Visual Art Gallery gives visitors plenty of space to peruse the expansive variety of works from Malaysian and other Southeast Asian artists. Here, exhibits and galleries display historic folk art, modern caricatures, expressionist paintings, photos, prints, textiles and ceramics.

  • To Market, to Market.

    Central Market has been reinvented from its early days as a “wet market” where vendors sold fresh meats and produce. Now, you’re more likely to find batik emporiums,
    jewelry vendors, bakers and palm readers in this historic art deco venue. Tucked behind the main building is Central Market Annexe, an art space with galleries and studios.

  • Find Your Fortune.

    Duck into Sin Sze Si Ya, the oldest Chinese Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur. The beautifully ornate prayer hall and open-air pavilion, founded in 1864, is suffused with the scent of burning incense and joss sticks. In the mood to have your fortune read? Rattle the container filled with kao chim sticks until one falls out, match the number on that stick to one on a corresponding slip of paper, and offer it to a temple caretaker, who will translate its message for 1 ringgit (roughly 25 cents).

  • Crowdsource Your Cuisine.

    For an authentic, bustling open-air experience, head to Jalan Alor’s dynamic street-food scene. This makeshift outdoor eatery is noisy and full of energy, as vendors on
    both sides of the street roast, wok, fry and grill authentic Malay, Chinese and Thai dishes that attract thousands of hungry locals and visitors long into the night. 




  • Discover the Art of Islam.

    Natural light floods the rooms and detailed inverted ceiling domes at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, the largest museum in Southeast Asia. Wander through gallery
    space dedicated to Islamic architecture, arms and armor, jewelry, ceramics, metalworks and more.

  • Fowl Play.

    The 21-acre Kuala Lumpur Bird Park inside Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park includes free-flight zones and mini aviaries for hundreds of species of feathered fowl —chittering lovebirds and conures, wading flamingos and pelicans, even flightless emus and cassowaries.

  • Set Hearts Aflutter ...

    If you prefer creatures with more delicate wings, the landscaped gardens at neighboring Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park house over 5,000 butterflies. Wander through more
    than 80,000 square feet of garden with flowering vines, exotic plants and ferns, as well as koi and freshwater turtles.

  • … Then Set Them Racing.

    Doff your shoes and step out for a photo in the Sky Box, if you dare — the glass-bottom rectangle juts out from the Sky Deck ledge of KL Tower nearly 1,000 feet, or 91
    stories, above the ground.

  • Adventurous Spirits.

    You won’t need a password to enter the speakeasy lounge Omakase + Appreciate — just a good sense of direction. Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese, so the adventure here is letting the bartenders create a custom cocktail based on your preferences and experiences.




  • Idol Experience.

    Explore the technicolor carvings of Hindu deities of Sri Mahamariamman Temple, the nation’s oldest. Walk through the entryway under the 75-foot Raja Gopuram tower to visit shrines to Ganesh, Muruga and Lakshmi. The prayer halls feature hundreds of colorful sculpted idols and deities, while the scents of flowers, camphor and incense
    linger in the air.

  • Brunch Bounty.

    Take dim sum at Li Yen, the award-winning Cantonese restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. Among the myriad options, be sure to try the cha siu bao (pillowy steamed buns with roast pork) and ha gow (shrimp dumplings in translucent wrappers).

  • Leader of the Pack.

    Maximize your last night in Kuala Lumpur by having the butler pack your suitcase while you enjoy dinner at The Library downstairs. All 364 rooms at The Ritz-Carlton,
    Kuala Lumpur enjoy full butler service.

  • Go Out on Top.

    The floor-to-ceiling glass walls at Marini’s on 57, the city’s highest rooftop bar, offer spectacular views of the Petronas Towers and the rest of the city skyline, as well as an impressive list of cocktails and spirits, including 85 kinds of whiskey.